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Touring & Adventure TTG Features


Outback on track I


t’s a geography lesson in motion: bluffs as straight as a ruler emerge from behind misted foregrounds; lustrous fields of


Chloe Cann prepares to board The Ghan


tall maize sway like waves into the distance; tumbleweeds cartwheel by as red sand is whipped into small towers; silver slivers of water appear like a mirage on the horizon; and faded swathes of oldman saltbush and lone trees freckle crumpled hills. Outback Australia is infamous for its unforgiving landscapes, but unlike the pioneering cameleers, buffalo hunters and jackaroos (young, cattle station hands) before me, I’m sailing through its interior with starched white napkins at hand, South Australia’s finest sparkling on tap, air conditioning and even a shower. One of the world’s most iconic train


Cruising through Nitmiluk Gorge Experiencing the Outback


journeys, The Ghan distills Australia’s quintessential landscapes – from empty ochre deserts to tropical grasslands, arid mountain ranges and vast segments of scrubland – into a three-day nature documentary that unfolds before your eyes. All from the luxury of your own mobile hotel room. And travelling from coast to coast, toe to tip, exploring three dramatically different regions (south, central and north), I begin to understand why green and gold are Australia’s national colours.


The Ghan has undergone several transformations since its inception


Engineering triumph It’s not just nature’s feats that will fill your clients with awe, however. The Ghan itself is a bewildering triumph of engineering, 127 years in the making, with sleepers laid in some of the most desolate and flood-


Tuck into Australia’s most iconic landscapes from the comfort of your own mobile luxury hotel room. Chloe Cann takes the transcontinental trip of a lifetime aboard The Ghan


prone pockets of Australia. The first section of track between Adelaide and Alice Springs was completed in 1929, but it wasn’t until 2004 that the final portion from the Red Centre to Darwin was finished. Since its inception, the onboard


offering has undergone several transformations too. Gone are the economy sleeper seats that once housed backpackers and budget travellers, as are the numerous stops at outback towns that allowed passengers to board and disembark at will along the way. Today there are just two classes – Gold Service and the more premium Platinum – and just three Outback Experience stops. The journey, however, can be diced any of seven different ways. Many guests I meet choose to alight in Alice Springs and explore Uluru and its wider national park, then continue on to Darwin a week later, when the train returns northbound. Some merely travel on the Adelaide to Alice Springs leg, or vice versa. But nearly all have one thing in common: The Ghan represents only one small part of a much bigger itinerary that typically takes in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and the Great Barrier Reef. After travelling for almost a day just to reach the continent, the European travellers I meet are tired of wasting time in sterile airport departure lounges but lack the time and energy to traverse the entire country at the wheel of a hire car. There is, however, one striking similarity between air travel and The Ghan – my Gold Service single cabin is as sleek and ergonomic as anything you’ll find when turning


Turn to 60 22.02.2018 59


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